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I'm trying to think of the last time the American public called for a politician's head based on a sex scandal at all

It was probably sometimes in the fifties or so. May be a bit more recently in the preacherous states.

I'm not convinced the public gives a wit about the sexcapades of its politicians, nor even about the eventual hypocrisy associated with them, otherwise Vitter and Craig would have resigned a long time ago.

It's a media and political class thing. If a situation like that gives an opening to internal competitors within the system, the power base evaporates instantly and your career is over.

Spitzer probably looked at the situation and decided it wasn't worth the pain of going through the circus. He's very wealthy. He doesn't need the job. He probably weighted the situation against his long term ambitions for the White House. He's not so wealthy that he can ignore the highly-moneyed common wisdom for the race to the WH and the prostitute thing cannot fly with that crowd. So, if it's fucked for the White House, why stick around Albany and carry on in an otherwise very unpleasant job in a very unpleasant little town? (Being governor of New York is only for the very ambitious or the truly desperate).

But I'm pretty sure that he could have taken a completely different approach and stick it to the media "Yeah I did it, I did it with my money and my dick and I enjoyed every single fucking minute of it! So now, what's your fucking problem?". He could have played it populist / embattled / stick-it-to-the-man-and-the-effete-elites and I'm sure he would have won the public to his side, especially in New York. They have a special fondness for big swinging dicks with very loud mouths and no sense of shame.

by Francois in Paris on Tue Mar 18th, 2008 at 10:05:36 PM EST
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Minor point, I think the feds were actually lining up to indict him under federal law, because the prostitute had at least once traveled to another state to meet him and that's prosecutable by the feds.

Were it "merely" a prostitution scandal it would be one thing, but it's hard to continue when indicted for one of these things, especially if one ends up doing jail time.

by Zwackus on Wed Mar 19th, 2008 at 12:55:52 AM EST
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The main problem is that he prosecuted prostitution rings himself, so he comes across as just as much a hypocrite as the Republicans you mention.

If it wasn't for that, I would have loved watching him taking your approach. Forcing journalists to discuss "boring" things like the banking crisis in his press conferences, while refusing to answer questions about when he'll resign. Even better: "I'll resign as soon as Vitter does". As ex-AG he may even have knowledge of what other Republicans have been up to (and they would know that...), so he might even have had some ability to implicitly blackmail the feds...

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Mar 19th, 2008 at 05:57:16 AM EST
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